Learn to Solder Kit
Learn to Solder Kit
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Product Description
You may be intimidated by soldering, but you’re interested in exploring the world of tinkering that only a proper soldering kit can open up. The communities over at Geekhack and Geekhackers have been helping people learn the process for years and the culmination of their efforts is the Learn to Solder Kit, a comprehensive set of supplies designed and arranged by Ming Kawaguchi (mkawa on Geekhack) to be a purely pro-bono tool for education ... Read More

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ming.geekhackers.org
62
Feb 3, 2015
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Folks! I've been getting direct requests to bring this drop back, and I definitely want to! However, we need a bit of time to work out logistics for the next drop. In the meantime, please vote to bring the drop back! It will be a nice kick in the pants for all of us if we can see what the demand looks like. Thanks for your support!
Feb 3, 2015
RED-404
206
Dec 18, 2014
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So the flat soldering tip was sticking 3/4 the way out of the corner of the box. I don't know how it made it all the way to my house without getting lost. I assume it was supposed to be in that little bag in the box. :-)
Dec 18, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Dec 18, 2014
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eek! if anyone is missing an iron tip, please let me or customer service at massdrop know and i will get you another one asap. they are pointy little things that like to escape plastic bags.
Dec 18, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Dec 12, 2014
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I believe everything has been received by massdrop as of yesterday and will be ready to ship out shortly!
Dec 12, 2014
HassanS
3181
Operations
Dec 10, 2014
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Quick update for the group. It looks like we have received everything but the soldering irons. We are working to get those in ASAP so we can get these out to you soon! We are currently coordinating on this and will update the group when we have more news.
Once the remaining portion of the order does arrive we will get these out really quickly!
Expect an update from us on 12/15 or sooner if something comes up.
Dec 10, 2014
Gearheadgal
3
Dec 24, 2014
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My flat tip also seems to have escaped the box... That and there was no soldering wire in there. Was anyone else missing that? I was supposed to get enough to last a year...now I can't even play with my new kit over the holiday. Waah!
Dec 24, 2014
HassanS
3181
Operations
Dec 25, 2014
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Thats sad to hear, not to worry as we will work to get this taken care of. Please reach out to us at support@massdrop.com and we will make sure you are taken care of.
-Hassan
Dec 25, 2014
HassanS
3181
Operations
Dec 3, 2014
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Quick update for the group. The vendor let us know that production on these will be wrapping up soon! We are still working out the shipment details and will update you all as soon as those are finalized!
Once these are shipped we will prep our warehouse team and get them looped in so that they can get these reshipped ASAP.
Thanks for your patience and expect an update from us on 12/9 or sooner if something comes up.
Dec 3, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Dec 2, 2014
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Hey folks!
The order with the manufacturer was placed last Tuesday and production should be wrapping up today or tomorrow. When the west coast wakes up, I will confirm an eta on delivery to fulfillment. Thanks all!
Dec 2, 2014
nelson
5274
Operations
Nov 18, 2014
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We’ve submitted our order for Learn to Solder Kit shortly after the drop ended.
Now that the order has been placed, @ming.geekhackers.org is preparing it for shipment. In the meantime, we will also be getting our warehouse ready to handle the reshipment of the product to everyone as soon as it arrives.
Expect an update from us on 12/02 or sooner if something comes up.
Nov 18, 2014
Lucky
4
Nov 16, 2014
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This is expensive. Don't buy. If you're not going to be working in PCB Assembly, then this is an expensive hobby.
Nov 16, 2014
AlfiePates
27
Nov 15, 2014
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This is crazy overpriced. Get down to your local electronics supplier and get a $30 kit.
Nov 15, 2014
joeku
16
Nov 14, 2014
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A $145 learn to solder kit? This is ridiculously overpriced.
My learn to solder kit was $25, from radio shack and had that iron for over a decade. Now I have a Hakko Fx888D and it is all the solder I would ever need.
Once again, you guys are going overboard.
Nov 14, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 12, 2014
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as priced in this kit, we're getting you a lower price than 33.3 at highest tier, but offhand I can't remember how much more of a discount we managed.
every other nipper in this price range is going to be either stamped sheet metal or low purity chinese steel alloys without heat treatment (hardening). even the wihas in this price range are made in their asian plants.
for high steel surface hardness, the best known quantity manufacturing method is to take carbon steel billet blanks, heat treat them (heat to 2500C and then quench the steel), and finally, apply a precision grind.
this is also the most difficult method of manufacturing, as quenching high purity carbons steel alloys can produce surface hardness up to rockwell C70-80 (which is about as high as you can get before you're into sapphire/diamond territory), and then you need to precision grind this ridiculously hard surface. the result is superior, but not cheap in any way.
anyway, the poster who mentioned that xurons are cheaper is right. however, the quality is significantly lower, and given the price we're able to offer these for, we made the decision to present a full kit of high quality components rather than compromise on the nippers for a slight reduction in total price. in my experience, you're much better off starting with cutters that are BIFL rather than destroying dozens of slightly cheaper cutters before finally buying good ones.
Nov 12, 2014
SuperBobKing
145
Nov 12, 2014
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As far as total price for all of these components, I got <$148 (I rounded up to the nearest dollar on each piece) without shipping checking the lowest price of the first few results in google. I couldn't find the exact tweezers, but on the edsyn website all of the other ed1xx-sa tweezers were $2.90 so I went with that. That is also the price without shipping. I don't know how much shipping would be, but a lot of those components were from different places.
The cutters are only $33.30 on the edsyn website. That is the clearence price though.
Nov 12, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 11, 2014
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we are well aware of the xuron 410a stamped shears, and i have no experience with them, but they look promising.
however, for various reasons, you're getting these larsen units for _much less_ than 50$ in this bundle.
Nov 11, 2014
techmattr
38
Nov 10, 2014
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I think what most people have failed to mention here is that each of these parts purchased separately from big box online retailers like Amazon comes out to $95. And that's just the Amazon price or the first price I found when searching the items in this kit. So yes the "kit" price is about $50 more than retail. Also saying this is a BIFL is kind of a joke since leaded solder is most likely going to be outlawed at some point.
A lot of you have made a good point about buying high quality tools to try out a hobby. The experience is vastly more positive when using proper tools. That's why you should do yourself a favor and get something like a Weller WES51. I picked up a WES51 years ago when I wanted to try soldering and I'll never have a reason to replace it.
Edit: I had this window open for a couple hours and in that time Danlab mentioned the same thing I just said no one mentioned =\ Should have refreshed before I started typing.
Edit: As Danlab mentioned and I mentioned on some other threads,,, get .015 (wire) or .020, .031 (joints). The solder in this kit looks to be .060 which is way to thick for small electronics. It's also 1/16 the amount of what you would normally get for $20.
Nov 10, 2014
Danlab
14
Nov 10, 2014
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I solder for a living and this “deal”/discussion got my attention.
After some research I found the real problem with the kit to be that it pairs a modest priced soldering Iron with over-the-top expensive extras. I’ll start with the Larson diagonal cutters: These are apparently amazing cutters but appear to cost $50-$60, which is completely ridiculous for a learn-to-solder kit; I have used a $10 pair of Xuron shears at work for tens of thousands of solder joints and they are holding up just fine; in a hobbyist setting, a $10 pair will last for years. The solder sucker is a similar story; the Edyson sucker is supposed to be the best on the market but sells for about $20. Solder suckers are difficult to use well and in some cases just can’t be used for the joint you want to de-solder, I personally wouldn't pay more than $10 for one.
To break it down: The soldering iron sells for about $56 elsewhere, seems pricey for a single temp iron to me but it is supposedly good quality so ok. The snips/shears: replace the ridiculous Larsons with a good pair of Xuron 410 shears for $10. The solder sucker sells for about $20, too much but I'll leave this one. The solder is a tiny sample size worth no more than $5. Throw in an extra $5-$10 to get a decent pair of tweezers.
Add this up, replacing the overly expensive Larson shears with Xuron shears, and it is less than $100 to buy equivalent bits; less if you go with a generic solder sucker.
What should you get if you are serious about soldering? Get either a Weller WES51 ($94) or a Hakko FX888D ($91), a pair of Xuron 410 clippers ($10), a $5-$10 solder sucker, a roll of Desoldering braid ($2), a pound of Kester 44 solder in .02” or .031” thickness ($30). This will cost you less than $150 with all free/prime shipping.
Nov 10, 2014
joeku
16
Nov 14, 2014
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I agree. That plus a desoldering wick will get the job done nice and neat every time.
Nov 14, 2014
anro
79
Nov 17, 2014
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As someone with a cheap generic solder sucker, I wish I had started with something nice like this.
Overall, I wish I had started with a nice kit like this. All the old-timers on here talking about how they started with a $20 iron have forgotten that not everyone learns the same way. Starting off with nice, but simple, tools gives a much better experience than just going with the cheapest option.
Nov 17, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 9, 2014
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Dave Jones of EEVBlog would not have encountered the cl1481, nor its older brothers and sisters the 9xx series because they are generally 110v only (he is very very australian) and Edsyn does not have much if any distribution in Australia. It would be great to get his opinion on the Edsyn line though. I'll send some emails and see what can be worked out :)
Nov 9, 2014
sprk1
231
Nov 8, 2014
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After reading all of the nonsense in this discussion I felt compeled to make this my first post. This kit sounds about right for someone seriously wanting to get into the hobby. I won't get into the details as Ming has done that superbly even in the face of a such negativity. That being said, I will tell you a story or two.
When I first got into lockpicking, I got a regular Southord lockpicks set with metal handles. I almost dropped the hobby because I found it impossible. I then bought a set of my preffered Peterson picks at 6 times the cost and realized that what was keeping me from learning correctly was using awful tools. I can now use any lockpick brand and keep my Southords as the backup to my backup, but honestly they were a total waste of money. I wish someone had told me to get petersons from the get go. I'd be 35 bucks richer.
After spending money on a multitude of cheapo bitholding screwdriver set - mostly for computer and server work - I decided to splurge almost 100 bucks in a Wera Kraftform set on the recomendation of a work friend. I wish someone had convinced me not to get carried away buying the "normal brand" tools and pointed me in the direction of Wera. I'd be around 80 bucks richer.
If there's one advice I'd give someone that wants to get into a hobby like electronics it would be to NOT go cheap on your tools. As opposed to lockpicking and computer assembly, soldering carries more risk of both bodily harm and the equipment damage. Anyways. Guess what I started soldering on? A cheapo variable power station that costed about 25 bucks. I now use a high end Hakko. I wish someone had made a kit like this when I started...
Nov 8, 2014
cygnusrising
21
Nov 8, 2014
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I hate to say it, but you've really gone and nuked the fridge on this one, Massdrop.
The core of any good 150 dollar "I want to be serious about soldering" kit should be a $75+ soldering station -- something with temperature control from a trusted brand like Hakko or Weller. Plug-in-and-pray soldering irons are going to always be sub-par, no matter what.
Nov 8, 2014
tjcaustin
41
Nov 8, 2014
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I guess it's a good thing this isn't "plug in and pray", then? Also, claiming edsyn isn't trusted is the kind of arrogant ignorance that drives me nuts and is rampant in the comments of this buy. Dollars to donuts, an edsyn station was used to make the hakko and weller stations everyone is knee-jerk screaming about.
Nov 8, 2014
DylanDailey
1
Nov 7, 2014
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This is a ridiculously overpriced kit. Radioshack (known for price gouging) sells higher quality irons for far less than this. I'm sure it will perform just fine, but i use a $25 30W iron, and it has never disappointed me.
Nov 7, 2014
SuperBobKing
145
Dec 20, 2014
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Did you reply to the right post? If so you should probably read most of my other ones in this thread.
Dec 20, 2014
DylanDailey
1
Jan 4, 2015
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its possible i did not. Sorry :/
Jan 4, 2015
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 7, 2014
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I am not making any money on this drop. At the highest tier, this product is being sold at cost.
Nov 7, 2014
TomBrend
5
Nov 6, 2014
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This is absolutely better than the $20 Radio Shack iron / kit, but for this price, you can get a Weller station, which is enormously superior. The other accessories here vary between not necessary and not good- those tweezers will last 20 minutes, and the solder pumps are inferior to desoldering braid.
Nov 6, 2014
TomBrend
5
Dec 16, 2014
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I solder probably 3 days out of any given week. I've harvest tons of parts from all manner of assemblies, and I prefer wick. I'm not sure what you mean about 0204's... they'd go right into the pump and you'd lose the part, and probably clog the gun.
Dec 16, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Dec 17, 2014
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Folks, for reference, an 0204 package is a 0.2x0.4mm passive device, usually resistors and low impedance stacked capacitors. typically, a device this small costs a fraction of a penny per unit, and is well known for being susceptible to physical damage. that is, so little solder is involved in keeping it on the board that people tend to accidentally knock them off boards during handling.
you can decide for yourself whether further discussion of such devices is relevant to this product.
Dec 17, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 6, 2014
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edsyn is not a little-known manufacturer. they do not have a large hobbyist following because their tool line is focused on assembly line manufacturing and rework. however, the founder of edsyn _invented the hand piston desoldering tool_. every single desoldering hand piston you've ever seen is derived from his original (and still the best) design.
edsyn has a pedigree in soldering tools that dates back to the beginnings of electronics manufacturing. period.
Nov 6, 2014
chesterqw
28
Nov 6, 2014
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does this happen to be a learn how to spend your money wisely kit too?
Nov 6, 2014
tjcaustin
41
Nov 8, 2014
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Hopefully a learn how to research product kit and a how to add to a conversation kit, too.
Nov 8, 2014
radio_killah
85
Nov 5, 2014
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So after reading all that.. I am still confused on whether or not this is worth it.
Nov 5, 2014
tjcaustin
41
Nov 9, 2014
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So now it's "my research is better than your's"?
Cool story, bro. Trust people that might have clear or clouded financial gain to be had by telling you to go a certain route.
I don't know why you think you're responding to nonsense when you're a chief contributor *to* the nonsense. If anything, you should say "I'm done giving you nonsense to respond to"
Nov 9, 2014
sprk1
231
Nov 11, 2014
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I agree with you completely. I mentioned the "labor of love" comment in response to the comments stating that this kit's price is solely in the spirit of making a profit, which is not the case with ming's kits either via massdrop or directly via geekhack. That being said, while I don't think ming believes his work is perfect, it is definitely not awful or overpriced – although it may very well be prohibitive price wise.
In any case, I think this drop has been completely taken over by negativity which saddens me as some people have been put off getting great tools at a valid price point. C'est la vie I guess.
Nov 11, 2014
thenameiswan
1
Nov 5, 2014
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Suppose that it costs $50, Then I will hesitate to buy it.
Nov 5, 2014
sofly
86
Nov 4, 2014
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The equipment in this kit looks to be of high quality - when soldering often, the difference between an "Asia-made" iron/station for $30-50 and a more expensive iron/station is noticeable, regardless of whether both will last similar amounts of time. I learned this when I was fortunate enough to have access to high quality equipment (Metcal, etc.) in college.
If you're not using this iron almost daily, the $30-50 ones will work perfectly fine, and I doubt that most people (as shown by the comments) use it frequently or heavily enough that they'd seriously need to spend much more cash on an iron like this.
I agree with the above poster who said that the disconnect is "learn to solder" and "$150". I think that this kit is better aimed at somebody who either: 1. already grabbed the crappy $10 iron off the wall of a hardware store and is starting to get into more serious electronics. Or 2. An engineer who's got equipment collected over the years of varying qualities but wants to upgrade a bit and not break the bank on "lab" quality stuff. But that's a small market, and it's a lot harder to word something for the drop that would get that across succinctly.
Nov 4, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 4, 2014
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note that i have sold these units with custom step-down transformers built by myself at the ratings above and the customers who are happily using those have not had issues, so i feel relatively safe recommending this. however, neither edysn or myself nor massdrop recommend the use of step-down transformers as their usage is out of specification for the product yadda yadda
Nov 4, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 4, 2014
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To use this iron with 220V mains, you _CANNOT_ use just a passive plug adapter. That is dangerous.
You _can_ use a 220v to 110v step-down transformer. Make sure it is rated to > 100W continuous draw (many cheap ones that say they are rated to >100W are only rated for one minute on, 20 minutes off).
If you already have a reliable step-down transformer with a sufficiently high power rating, you are good to go.
Nov 4, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 4, 2014
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I just looked up titanium hammers since you mentioned it. Looking back on the hammers I've bought, a titanium headed hammer actually costs less than twice as much, which is surprising, but cool I guess? However, from what I know about the titanium they're using, it's actually softer than the cheaper steel hammers I've picked up off the shelf from ye olde big box hardware store, which, it would seem, make it a worse material for a hammer that spends its entire life smashing into things.
Yet, the advantage they claim is that, although it carries less momentum, since it weighs less, you can, strike with more directed force via your arm because you're less likely to miss.
However, if this is true, then you can do exactly the same thing with a steel hammer that weighs the same amount.
There are further claims about titanium and apparently "titanium-like" hammers. Toolguyd has quite a bit to say about them and the many dubious claims here: http://toolguyd.com/a-look-at-titanium-and-titanium-like-hammer-marketing-claims/
The difference that I'd like to point out is that I'm not making marketing claims here. I'm offering my own experiences backed up by elementary physics. Further, it is quite factual to say that the infinity keyboard is just a single electronics kit in a universe of circuits that you can construct yourself just by making solid electrical joints between passive and active circuit components. In other words, the infinity keyboard is just one circuit in an infinite space of circuits (woah!).
Learning to solder not only the infinity keyboard, but any circuit in any mode of operation and construction that you can imagine (and those you have yet to imagine!) is the spirit of this kit. Hence, the value of the kit, and of learning in general, is not really comparable to the cost of a single manufactured product. I quite like tools, as you may have noticed, and this is why.
I'll spare you the talk about John von Neumann and self-reproducing automata that I usually launch into at this point.
Nov 4, 2014
ming.geekhackers.org
62
Nov 4, 2014
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To a large extent I agree. When I was 15, I looked wistfully at the Hakko 936 (NOT the far inferior offshored 888 or Aoyue clone) and ended up at Tandy^H^H^H^H Radio Shack, buying a hot stick from the very back of the store where they kept the things that they weren't really sure what to do with anymore.
Over the years, I've purchased a lot of tools, for constructing electronics, machining, plastic extrusion, smashing things (my favorite, to be honest), etc. and in the particular case of soldering, what i've found is that, although i now have every bizarre type of specialty tool one can find, including a number I've made myself, 90% of my work can be and is done with a simple fixed temperature iron: the cl1481.
Similarly, I have a Hakko 808D self-contained desoldering gun which costs no less than 12x the cost of the Soldapullt contained in this kit (and that's without the tips that are constantly clogging, the disposable prefilters, filters and chambers), and I still use a Soldapullt for 90% of my desoldering tasks.
Finally, my Larsen hand tools literally caused me to give away pretty much all of the rest of my cutters and pliers. They are completely unparalleled. Prior to discovering the joy of Swedish hand tools, I bought a large number of Wiha's various lines. As it turned out, the few of those tools that were actually made in Germany are the only ones that I still use, and even then, they are starting to show their age in ways that are unrepairable.
During that same period, I've abused my Larsens in the most ridiculous ways you can imagine. Once, after chewing through stainless steel air conditioning hard-line in my car with ia 955 series Larsen cutter (recommended for up to 16ga soft copper wire!), I left it on top of my engine, and then, in my infinite wisdom, I started the car and went for a test drive.
After tooling around for a few miles to make sure the AC compressor wouldn't lock up on me, I came back to the garage, opened my hood and "OH MY GOD, THAT IS A VERY VERY HOT PAIR OF CUTTERS OW OW OW OW" etc.
I still use that tool daily, and have resharpened it after cutting things that, frankly, it just shouldn't, about half a dozen times. Despite being heated to 3-400F, the hinge is still perfectly smooth, and it still cuts things that, well, i shouldn't cut with it. In my lifetime, I've probably chewed through and tossed out a couple dozen pairs of cheaper snippers, adding up to 4 or 5 times the cost of the Larsen _easily_.
Again, are these the only tools in the world? no. Do I swear by these tools as the ones I use day in and day out and recommend as highly as possible as an introductory kit that you will be able to rely on to perform flawlessly for the rest of your life? absolutely.
Nov 4, 2014
SuperBobKing
145
Nov 6, 2014
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>introductory kit that you will be able to rely on to perform flawlessly for the rest of your life? Full Definition of INTRODUCTORY : of, relating to, or being a first step that sets something going or in proper perspective <an introductory course in calculus> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/introductory
Notice the part where it says first step. That is what an introductory kit should be, not something that you will be using for the rest of your life. Just tools that are of a suitable quality for you to do beginner work with, without having to spend much money on a hobby you don't even know if you will like. Then when you know you enjoy soldering and are ready to move onto more advanced stuff that requires it you can invest in higher quality equipment.
Do stay away from those $3-5 solder suckers that look like this: http://www.amazon.com/Parts-Express-Solder-Sucker-desoldering/dp/B0002KRAAG They are completely useless. If you really don't want to spend the money on a soldapullt or something similar, in my experience the bulb style solder suckers work better.
Nov 6, 2014
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